Inside the Brewery with Harpooner, Hillary Brown
By: Harpoon Digital Marketing Team Published:
If you’ve been to our Boston Beer Hall, you know how delicious and addicting our hand-made pretzels are – especially when paired with brewery-fresh pint of Harpoon. Well, you can thank Head Baker Hillary Brown and her team. And despite the numerous social media allegations, any addictive qualities are the result of beer and love, nothing else! In honor of National Pretzel Day on April 26th, we sat down with Hillary to get the skinny on those mouthwatering brewery treats.
Favorite Harpoon beer/pretzel combo:
I really like getting a regular salted pretzel with marinara, IPA cheddar cheese, and washing it down with Rich and Dan's Rye IPA.
When I’m not baking pretzels, I’m making/baking:
Pizza! If you couldn't tell from my pretzel preference, I am a pizza fiend. My professional experience was in baking pizza, and currently I am experimenting with vegan recipes using fresh, local veggies on my pies at home.
Bostinno recently listed our pretzels as one of the top iconic Boston snacks. How did it feel to be on that list next to some really cool brands?
It was very sobering - ha! I was extremely humbled that my work and the work of my previous chefs was being honored with such high regard. Being on the list along with Polar Seltzer was mind blowing to me since I drink their product almost every time I come into work. A lot of the other snacks Bostinno listed had decades of experience on us, so it was wonderful to see we made the cut having only been in existence for a year.
Baking those delicious pretzels must take time. What’s a typical day look like for you and your team?
It all starts with dough. All of our dough is made from a scratch recipe and contains our New England-style IPA. After the dough is mixed and rises, we hand portion and shape every single pretzel. Depending on the day, a baker will usually shape anywhere between 60-200 pretzels. This process takes the longest, but I've got a phenomenal team that can usually shape a pretzel in about 20 seconds flat.
After that, we focus on sauces. All of our side sauces are also made from scratch, and most of them contain a Harpoon beer on tap at the Beer Hall. Our sauces vary depending on season not only for taste but to utilize our seasonal beers as well. We've done a winter warmer chocolate sauce, as well as a pumpkin UFO pumpkin butter for the Autumn. We have a few staple sauces, but we are constantly researching and developing new recipes depending on what we're pouring.
Throughout the day, the bakers in our exposed kitchen love to talk to Harpoon drinkers about what we do. I encourage guests to come up and talk to us about pretzels - our production is reminiscent of the work our brewers do, so we welcome all questions!
What do you think makes Harpoon pretzels so special?
Since each pretzel is crafted every step of the way by hand, the quality is incomparable. None of our ingredients are frozen and we bake them fresh daily. In addition to the recipes containing Harpoon's most fresh brews, we also collect spent grain straight from the brewery's tanks and dry them in our ovens to use in our salt mix. Multiple steps of our pretzel process contain some form of Harpoon beer - the last being that they are boiled not in lye or baking soda, but in IPA. We put a lot of love into our pretzels. You can taste it.
Any chance you can give us a teaser for any seasonal pretzels coming down the pike?
We're about to unveil a new pepper jack cheese sauce. We've also been developing pretzel buns for the burgers at our Windsor, VT brewery.